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linguininess
02-12-2012, 04:18 PM
I am currently about to transfer to SCAD's VSFX program in the fall. I spoke with my advisor at SCAD and they informed me that my general courses would transfer over, thus I would be graduating from SCAD in two years.

Now for my questions.

- How rigorous is the BFA VSFX program?

- How are the classes in general (too fast, too slow, too many people in the class?, etc)?

- How are the professors? Are they willing to help students outside of class times?

- What is the grading method like? Like, how exactly do they grade you?

- Are there many critiques? Student presentations? Tests or quizzes? Homework?

- What exactly is a "final demo reel"? I'm assuming that is the final project for graduating seniors. Is that something you must present to the entire class/faculty?

- I'm debating on whether to study at Savannah or Atlanta for VSFX. Thoughts?




I have way more questions that I can't think of right now :banghead: but hopefully you guys will be able to answer my current questions.

Thanks!

Almaghest
03-03-2012, 05:15 PM
- How rigorous is the BFA VSFX program?
I would rate it of moderate "rigoursness." It is definitely above community college and state programs and even many programs at other private art schools. However, I would rate it below some of the very specialized schools (Gnomon.) When I was at SCAD, they were not always failing students who should probably fail (for example, students majoring in majors that REQUIRE drawing ability to succeed can graduate without that ability.) Some of this bleeds over into the VSFX dept, but it's not as bad as other depts.

SCAD is very much what you put into it. Many people will tell you the VSFX program is very rigorous, but you will probably find the quality of their work is low and they are slackers (who found it rigorous because they tried to do 100 hours of work in the last week.)

How are the classes in general (too fast, too slow, too many people in the class?, etc)?
Class sizes are definitely not an issue. They cap at 30 students for classes outside your major and at 20 for classes in your major. In the summer, I sometimes took classes with less than 10 students.

As for pacing, it depends a LOT on the class. I had classes where we regularly watched movies and it was very relaxed. I had others that were extremely fast paced and challenging. It's rare to find classes that are actually too slow paced, because the quarter is only 10 weeks long - that usually results in the class being too fast paced, if anything.

- How are the professors? Are they willing to help students outside of class times?
When I was there, the professors were all great. They really care a lot about their students and seeing them succeed. Most were more than willing to come in on weekends to help get students through their projects and they were always very prompt about answering questions via email.

- What is the grading method like? Like, how exactly do they grade you?
For the most part, grading is highly subjective. It IS "art," so you may not get the grade you think you should get. This is especially true if a professor happens to not like you, which is unfortunate. However, most professors are open to discussing grades if you think they've been unfair and will nudge a grade up a bit if it makes the difference between losing/keeping your scholarship, for example.

- Are there many critiques? Student presentations? Tests or quizzes? Homework?
There are a lot of critiques! Usually everyone in the class will do a project, then you will spend 1 or 2 classes having critiques. Each student will show their project (usually it just plays on a screen, you don't have to do any actual presenting unless people have questions) and then the professor/class will talk about what is successful in that project and what improvements could be made.

There was not much in the way of tests or quizzes in the VSFX dept itself. For the most part, everything is project based. So, for example, if you were going to learn about modeling, the professor would probably do a demo of himself modeling for an hour, then everyone in the class would try it as the professor walked around and helped everyone. You'd have 2-3 classes of demos, then everyone would begin an individual project that concentrated on whatever concept was being taught. You'd spend 2-3 weeks working on that project, have 1-2 classes of peer critiques (usually, sometimes you'd just turn them in) and then rinse and repeat. Typically each class would have a bigger "final project" that you would do the last few weeks of the quarter. This replaces the traditional "finals" that people think of at other colleges.

It is definitely A LOT OF HOMEWORK. Most students who were outputting good work were putting in 30-70 hours/week on work outside of class. This is just the nature of the beast... CG work takes a long time, especially when you're first learning the concepts and software. Fortunately if you like doing it, it doesn't seem like "homework." (If you find it feels like "homework" and you hate it, I strongly urge you to rethink your career.)

- What exactly is a "final demo reel"? I'm assuming that is the final project for graduating seniors. Is that something you must present to the entire class/faculty?
The "final demo reel" is really just a compilation of your best work. For most classes, you'll complete 2-4 projects over 10 weeks, so you have the opportunity to create a lot of work that is a good reflection of your skills. Typically your reel will be 1-3 minutes long and consist of work from 2-4 projects that you've done while at SCAD. There is also two "studio" classes that you take late in your degree where you can do or touch up projects just for your reel.

When I was there, you didn't actually have to show your whole reel to anybody besides in the Portfolio class, where we all critiqued each others reels and built websites/resumes/etc. But that was only in front of 20ish people.

Also, each quarter there was a presentation in a theater that the whole VSFX dept (and anyone else) was invited to. There they would show what professors thought was the best work from their classes that quarter. Typically the VSFX dept was the only people in attendance (and any friends those people dragged with them.)

You don't ever have to get approval or whatever of your final reel in order to graduate (if you were thinking that it was like a thesis project, for example.) Although the VSFX chair/professors want to see you do well and have a good reel, SCAD doesn't actually care and will give you your degree even without a final reel.

- I'm debating on whether to study at Savannah or Atlanta for VSFX. Thoughts?

Go to Savannah. Unless something has changed, they have a much wider variety of classes. Also, when employers visit to do interviews and presentations, they typically do not go to Atlanta. For a large, popular employer, SCAD may provide the opportunity for students in Atlanta to ride a bus to Savannah to see the presentation (about a 4-5h trip each way) but you will end up missing out on a lot of interview and networking opportunities by being in Atlanta.

linguininess
03-05-2012, 06:37 PM
Almaghest, thank you so much for responding with a very detailed response. I can't thank you enough.

I do have questions still like, how important is the MA/MFA is to a career in visual effects? Countless people have told me that having an MA or an MFA in VSFX is solely for teaching on a college-level. However, career-wise, MA/MFA is almost useless as all the skills you will ever need to work in the industry is all acquired in the BFA programs.

Is this true? What are your thoughts about MA vs just the BFA in VSFX in preparation for a career in VSFX.

Anodai
03-12-2012, 04:01 PM
With an MFA/MA, the mere fact that you have one will hardly put you ahead of a similarly qualified applicant. As far as what you will get out of it, I mean, you'll undoubtedly learn some skills from it, but the question is whether you will learn more from school at that point, or from an entry level position at a small studio.

I would also strongly suggest taking a couple years between getting your BFA and starting your MFA/MA, to work or take an internship or something. Coming back to school with some experience in the industry is probably a better position.

linguininess
05-22-2012, 02:43 AM
Sorry to bump up this really old thread, but I'd like to come back to it and ask more questions regarding SCAD's VSFX program. I like to hear opinions from all possible perspectives, so biased answers are always welcome :D

- I'm 90% sure I will be going to SCAD this fall to either study VSFX. Now, I'm pretty positive that I will be sticking with VSFX major, but out of pure curiosity, how do VSFX graduates fare against those who majored in Computer Animation in the job market? In my opinion (I'm pretty much just guessing) I think C.A. majors get more jobs, more salary than VSFX only because I'm assuming that those who can do Computer Animation can do VSFX work.

Is this correct? Or am I completely wrong about this? I chose VSFX because my drawings skills aren't as amazing as others. Honestly, if I were good at drawing (anatomy, perspective, expressions, etc) I would definitely switch from VSFX to C.A.

- I know several people (not just on this website but a few friends as well) have told me that SCAD Savannah is the place to be rather than at their Atlanta campus. The only reason why I'm considering Atlanta is because I already have a Bachelor's degree (I'm going to SCAD to get a second bachelor's) and I believe there are more internship opportunities in Atlanta that I could take advantage of--and I know Savannah is a small city which I would assume means less job/internship opportunities there. However, as the poster above me as mention, MANY companies visit the main campus for recruiting as they rarely ever go to the Atlanta campus.

So my question is, which is better?
Many job/internship opportunities in Atlanta -VERSUS- Many companies who frequently Savannah campus.

- My last question is very general but I gotta ask anyway. I know this will 100% depend on me, but what are the usual job placements for recent SCAD graduates who studied in VSFX? How many actually get jobs/internships their first few months after graduating.

I'm blessed with amazing parents to the point where I can survive a year or two doing unpaid internships. Is an internship pretty much "almost" guaranteed after graduation granted I actually have a DECENT reel/portfolio?

- I know the industry for video game design and VSFX pays substantially less considering the amount of hours one works per week. My question is: is it worth it? I'm not doubting my major or anything, I genuinely want to hear people's opinions.


I look forward to hearing your response and thanks in advance!

Almaghest
05-28-2012, 07:32 PM
- I'm 90% sure I will be going to SCAD this fall to either study VSFX. Now, I'm pretty positive that I will be sticking with VSFX major, but out of pure curiosity, how do VSFX graduates fare against those who majored in Computer Animation in the job market? In my opinion (I'm pretty much just guessing) I think C.A. majors get more jobs, more salary than VSFX only because I'm assuming that those who can do Computer Animation can do VSFX work.

Is this correct? Or am I completely wrong about this? I chose VSFX because my drawings skills aren't as amazing as others. Honestly, if I were good at drawing (anatomy, perspective, expressions, etc) I would definitely switch from VSFX to C.A.


Pretty much completely wrong. ;)
Computer Animation, at least at SCAD, is STRICTLY for animation. While they do have some exposure to other areas of the CG pipeline, they focus strictly on creating believable movement and storytelling. Animation is ideal for, of course, animators, but also possibly people who want to do pre-viz work, camera layout type work (setting up the framing of fully CG shots), and other work related to telling a compelling story. At SCAD, the Computer Animation program might also be better for someone who wanted to focus on modeling, but it's arguable (you can take these classes as electives if you are VSFX.)

VSFX focuses on other aspects of the pipeline - lighting, texturing/shading, FX (mostly in Houdini), scripting, etc. IMO being a Visual Effects major (especially combined with a TD minor) opens the door to a lot more opportunities than the Animation program. However, if you are passionate about Animation, that program is the clear choice.

In general, people in the Animation program tend to be less technical. They usually look to VSFX to do lighting, FX and other technical work on their student films. While they do get exposure to these areas, they typically don't concentrate on them and could not be gainfully employed in them right out of school (not unless they put in extra time/work outside their Animation coursework.)

Since VSFX covers like 4-5 disciplines and Animation concentrates on one, mathematically it has to open more career doors.

Also just an aside, generally you want to either be technically proficient (not necessary a genius but comfortable with scripting/programming) or be artistically talented. A lot of people go into the VSFX program because they "can't draw," but they also aren't technical... they don't do very well. (But don't fret if you aren't technical yet... just approach it with an open mind, it's confusing but anyone can pick it up.)


- I know several people (not just on this website but a few friends as well) have told me that SCAD Savannah is the place to be rather than at their Atlanta campus. The only reason why I'm considering Atlanta is because I already have a Bachelor's degree (I'm going to SCAD to get a second bachelor's) and I believe there are more internship opportunities in Atlanta that I could take advantage of--and I know Savannah is a small city which I would assume means less job/internship opportunities there. However, as the poster above me as mention, MANY companies visit the main campus for recruiting as they rarely ever go to the Atlanta campus.

So my question is, which is better?
Many job/internship opportunities in Atlanta -VERSUS- Many companies who frequently Savannah campus.

Meh, there's only 3-4 companies that offer internships even vaguely related to VSFX in Atlanta. Floyd County Productions, Turner/Cartoon Network, Artifact Design, and Radical Axis are the only places I can think of off the top of my head that frequently employee SCAD students as interns (Floyd I'm not actually sure about as far as interns, but they do hire from the Animation dept.)

Concentrate on school while you're in school, you can take time off to do internships. There aren't enough places, especially well known places, in Atlanta to make it worth going there strictly so you MIGHT get a VSFX-related internship in school. However, if you are wanting to find work related to your first bachelors to help pay for school, you may indeed have better luck in Atlanta.


- My last question is very general but I gotta ask anyway. I know this will 100% depend on me, but what are the usual job placements for recent SCAD graduates who studied in VSFX? How many actually get jobs/internships their first few months after graduating.

I'm blessed with amazing parents to the point where I can survive a year or two doing unpaid internships. Is an internship pretty much "almost" guaranteed after graduation granted I actually have a DECENT reel/portfolio?

- I know the industry for video game design and VSFX pays substantially less considering the amount of hours one works per week. My question is: is it worth it? I'm not doubting my major or anything, I genuinely want to hear people's opinions.


I can't give numbers because I don't have them. However, there is a large amount of students graduating from the digital media majors at SCAD (VSFX, Animation, Game Design, and Broadcast Design) who are unable to find gainful employment in a related industry and return home, go to grad school, or take work doing something else. This is usually a combination of things - typically they have weak reels, poor networking skills, and/or were unprepared for the reality of the effect that luck/timing has on finding employment in these industries.

If you can survive a 12-24 months post-graduation without a job, you will be fine. Typically if you have a good reel and are semi-decent at networking, you can find something in the 6 months before graduation (if your chosen specialty has a ton of work and you are good) or within 24 months (if your chosen specialty does not have a ton of work and/or you aren't that great)

Not gonna lie and tell you it's purely based on how good your portfolio is - unfortunately luck and timing plays a big part. The longer you can last after graduation with no income, the better off you will be.

Also... not sure what you think VSFX/games pays 'substantially less' than? The hours really aren't bad - the worst I had was in commercials, where we might do 12 hour days (6 days/week) at the end of a project. They did feed us very well, though. Legally studios should be paying you OT and if you are in CA the OT laws are very much in the favor of employees. So it shouldn't come out to "oh my salary is this BUT considering I work X hours, I actually make less."

However, you may find places try to compensate you daily/weekly/monthly instead of hourly to avoid paying you OT. Be wary of these places.

linguininess
05-30-2012, 06:08 AM
Thanks, Almaghest. I can't thank you enough for your advice. :cool:

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